Kyle Shanahan won’t explicitly answer the paramount question surrounding the 49ers, even if we can already deduce his hypothetical response.
Still, it bears asking who the team’s starting quarterback will be for Week 1 against the Detroit Lions. The quarterback position is of utmost importance to any team’s chances, and the 49ers did trade multiple picks to move up to take Trey Lance, a move that typically indicates a changing of the guard under center. Shanahan isn’t budging, though, and it sounds as if his stubbornness is now solely out of principle.
“I’m not going to answer that because I feel like all you guys have to do is look how I’ve talked since July 27th, I think that was my opening day of press conference,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “I almost wish I wasn’t being hardheaded with it, but I feel like you guys are being a little hardheaded to keep asking. I feel like I’ve already answered it, so we’ll keep it at that.”
We can respect it. After all, Shanahan is dug in too deep at this point, and we’ll get our answer this weekend, anyway.
The answer, according to the 49ers’ unofficial depth chart (compiled by the team’s communications staff as of Tuesday), is the one we expected all along: Jimmy Garoppolo remains QB1 in the Bay Area.
Shanahan also revealed Garoppolo is one of seven team captains for the season, underscoring his importance to the team, even if those hoping for a long-term change want to see Lance get his first regular-season reps. That change will likely come someday, but that day will not be included in this weekend — especially with Lance still working back from a finger injury suffered in a preseason win over the Raiders.
Garoppolo has handled the entire situation rather well, saying all the right things while continuing to do his job. His greatest hurdle is his health, which has proven to be less than reliable in recent years.
He’s healthy now, though, and ready to embrace what the Niners have refused to admit as an organization until now.
“For a while,” Garoppolo said when asked when he was told he’d be the 49ers’ top signal-caller. “I told you guys a long time ago, I had a pretty good feeling about it. Kind of joked about it, but yeah, I always kind of knew where I stood and everything. And yeah, now it’s official, I guess.”
Once seen as a long-term solution under center, Garoppolo’s inability to stay on the field has muddied his future, and the 49ers were intent on making sure another Garoppolo injury didn’t once again tank a season. No one can blame the 49ers for adding to the quarterback room, then, including Garoppolo. Shanahan has said in the past that he took the time to speak with Garoppolo following San Francisco’s stunning trade up to the third-overall pick, which the 49ers eventually spent on Lance, and the coach said during the offseason Garoppolo handled it well.
“I think that they did exactly what they were supposed to and everything,” Garoppolo said of the trade up to select Lance. “Obviously it’s a weird situation in and of itself, but just I don’t know, throughout all of it try to stay focused on myself and focused on getting this team better and putting us in the right position.”
Both knew the change likely wouldn’t happen overnight. Garoppolo still carries value for the 49ers, something Shanahan was sure to emphasize in his discussions with Garoppolo, and that remains the truth entering Week 1.
It’s still Jimmy G’s team, even if Shanahan’s stubbornness prevents him from clearly stating it.
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